Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Documents Relating to New Zealand's Participation in the Second World War 1939–45: Volume III

466 — The Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs to the acting Prime Minister of New Zealand1

The Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs to the acting Prime Minister of New Zealand1

6 May 1945

Following for the information of the acting Prime Minister is a summary of the broad conclusions of an appreciation by our military advisers, dated 28 April 1945, on the Japanese strategy and capacity to resist:

‘1. The conclusions have taken into account approved and probable Allied operations, have assumed that Germany is defeated by 1 July 1945, and that Russia does not declare war on Japan before 1 October 1945.

‘2. The fall of the Koiso Government and its replacement by the Suzuki Government is not in itself significant.2 The constitution of the new Cabinet and the evidence available of its intentions suggest that, while Japan may be prepared to limit her ambitions in China and attempt to buy off Russia, she has no immediate intention of trying to negotiate a compromise peace with Great Britain and America, as the Japanese Government do not believe such a peace could at present be obtained.

‘3. The possibility cannot be excluded that, under the impact of the defeat of Germany and the intervention of Russia, the Japanese, rather than see the entire country laid waste, might later, under a new Government, be prepared to accept peace tantamount to unconditional surrender, though not necessarily so described to the Japanese people.

‘4. The Japanese Government have no illusions about the seriousness of the situation. The dominant features in Japanese eyes are the threat of imminent invasion, the likelihood of Russian intervention, the mounting Allied bombing offensive, the severance of the inner from the outer zone, acute Japanese logistic difficulties, and the hopeless inadequacy of Japanese forces and war production.

‘5. The Japanese strategy in the inner zone is to try to build up as quickly as possible the defence of the islands of Japan and Manchuria, page 498 Korea and northern China. Japan appreciates that the invasion of Japan by Anglo-American forces is more imminent than the invasion of Manchuria by the Russians.

‘6. Japan's strategy in the outer zone, where her forces have little prospect of further reinforcement, or even replacement, from the inner zone, is to prolong her defence of Burma while concentrating small land forces in defence of key areas of Malaya, Siam and Indo-China, where they can best hope to pin down the maximum Allied forces and prevent the British in the Indian Ocean linking up with the Americans in the Pacific and so becoming available for the final battle of Japan. At the same time they are apprehensive of Allied attacks from the north-east on Borneo, and thereafter on the coast of French Indo-China.

‘7. Japan's war production, hampered by inadequate transport within the inner zone and subject to ever-increasing destruction by Allied bombers, will continue to decline.

‘8. For the defence of the inner zone Japan may deploy by 1 October 1945 some ninety-six divisions with a total strength of some 3,100,000 men, but these forces are still widely scattered and an acute shortage of shipping will prevent the rapid transfer of uncommitted forces to the battle area. The bulk of the Japanese air force and navy are already concentrated in the inner zone. These forces will be increasingly used in a suicide role.

‘9. In the outer zone Japan's land forces are already small and likely to be subjected to further serious losses by operations in Burma, by further Allied operations in South-East Asia and the South-West Pacific, and by normal wastage. By April 1946 they will be incapable of anything save purely delaying actions. Japanese air and naval forces in this zone already have nothing but a small nuisance value.’

1 Repeated to the United Kingdom delegation at San Francisco.

2 General Kuniaki Koiso succeeded General Tojo on 19 Jul 1944 as Prime Minister; he resigned on 5 Apr 1945 and was succeeded by Admiral Baron Suzuki.